July's Mac games
While it’s true that July’s highest-profile release was an 11-year-old Star Wars game—albeit with some welcome modern tweaks—the rest of our picks showcase another strong and diverse month for Mac gaming. There’s so much worth digging into here: Alluring side-scrollers like Feist and The Swindle, puzzle games like The Talos Principle: Road to Gehenna and The Magic Circle, and even a game called Zenzizenzic. (Can you figure out what kind of game that one is?)
As the summer reaches its hottest, stickiest days, Mac game makers are providing ample reason to stay inside and soak in the glow of your screen. Here are July’s most intriguing ways to do just that, and if you don’t find what you’re looking for here, maybe June’s list of top Mac games will sort you out.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II – The Sith Lords
Longtime Mac gamers know the pain of waiting for ports of top PC games, and while the problem has significantly improved in recent years, there are still plenty of old favorites that never made the leap. Well, here’s one that finally did: 11 years after its PC debut, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II – The Sith Lords ($10) is finally on Mac.
While not as universally acclaimed as the original, this vast role-playing adventure lets you explore the galaxy and guide your own character through his/her path—towards the light or dark side. It’s an engrossing quest, plus The Sith Lords isn’t just a straight port: It has widescreen and 5K resolution support, works with various controllers, and includes mod support on Steam for user-made customizations.
Feist ($15) looks like the visual pairing of modern classic Limbo and mobile (and recently, Mac) platform favorite Badland, but despite a familiar aesthetic, this attractive indie has its own unique tone. Rather than solve environmental puzzles in a linear storyline, as you would in Limbo, your creature must survive tense encounters in the wild.
You’ll face enemies large and small in the shadowy terrain, and quick thinking—or learning from your frequent missteps—can save your bacon. The juxtaposition between the beautiful music and graphics and the raucous fights gives Feist a different feel and flow than its assumed inspirations.
If you love You Don’t Know Jack and other comedic party games of its ilk, then you’ll probably dig Quiplash ($10), the latest from the same team at Jackbox Games. Rather than have players answer trivia questions, Quiplash chucks the rules entirely and simply asks players to come up with the funniest responses they can to open-ended prompts.
Think of it like Apples to Apples or Cards Against Humanity, albeit with your warped mind no longer restrained by response cards. Up to eight players to jump in using a phone or tablet to enter answers, and up to 10,000 online viewers can serve as a digital audience and even affect the outcome of the game.
No Time to Explain Remastered
Assume that a version of yourself from the future shows up, crashes through your living room wall, and is being chased by a giant monster. What do you do? Well, in No Time to Explain Remastered ($15), you pursue your future self through the chaotic side-scrolling levels, wherein you’ll use your new future cannon as both a jetpack and firearm.
The title says “Remastered,” but it’s really rebuilt: No Time to Explain was a popular web game that had a standalone release, but now it’s been remade in in the Unity game engine. Now only is it a slicker-looking game now, but it also introduces local multiplayer—which should only make the raucous running and flying even more enjoyable.
The Talos Principle: Road to Gehenna
Our sister site PCWorld called last year’s The Talos Principle “the best puzzler since Portal,” which should be reason enough for anyone to check it out. If you haven’t yet, go ahead and do that now—we’ll still be here when you’re done. However, if you did play the original game and enjoyed its brain-bending first-person challenges, there’s a new expansion out that’s just as appealing.
We won’t get into spoilers, but The Talos Principle: Road to Gehenna ($15) picks up where the original left off, but shakes up the terrain. Yet the formula still falls to challenging environmental puzzles, with a strong helping of philosophical texts and slightly surreal sights. Grab it if you loved the core game.
We’ve seen some frantic heist games in recent years, and The Swindle ($15) looks like another intriguing one—only it’s a single-player 2D game rather than a typical multiplayer affair. In this Steampunk-fueled adventure, you’ll infiltrate buildings, hack into their computers, and nab all the cash you can before making a mad dash to the exit.
The action is frantic and quite challenging, it seems, and since the buildings are all randomly designed, you won’t find a walkthrough to help you through a botched job. Luckily, there are many upgrades to find: New abilities, skills, and more that can help you stay out of sight and evade capture as you thieve with the best of ‘em.
Absolute Drift ($12) might be the most eye-catching game on the list this month, with a striking minimalist aesthetic that looks like Mirror’s Edge viewed from the top down. Only you’re not busting out parkour moves along rooftops: Here, you’re tasked with dragging out epic car drifts along empty white highways.
Drifting in a real car seems like it would be absolutely terrifying, but here, Absolute Drift conveys a surprising sense of Zen. There’s a rhythm in whipping around turns, smashing into the red blocks that guide your actions, and racking up a huge score, and the beautiful graphics and UI are a big part of that.
Like minimal design, but want something a lot more chaotic than Absolute Drift? Consider Zenzizenzic ($10), a “bullet hell” arcade-style shooter that’s earning raves for its unique spin on the genre. The classic mode—ideally played with a dual-analog gamepad—tasks you with surviving wild waves of projectiles as you blast the enemies that flood into view.
But it’s the Macro mode that really does something new with the genre: It takes cues from the roguelike genre (think FTL: Faster Than Light), letting you explore challenging worlds and likely perish often. Where’s the fun in that? Well, you’ll earn upgrades that enhance your abilities and make for a more rewarding experience over time.
The Magic Circle
Interactive satire is an intriguing concept, and that’s just what The Magic Circle ($20) promises. You’re the hero of an unfinished, broken game-within-a-game—one that the creators can’t seem to finish properly. After years and years of toiling in the wastelands, a mysterious voice begins guiding you to manipulate the code and start mucking with their game from within.
It’s a comedic puzzle game that lets you generate your own solutions, but more importantly, it seems to be a critique of the game industry and its trends—even the game’s website pokes fun at crowdfunding campaigns. If you’re an enthusiast, you might find plenty of love here. Steam reviewers have, certainly, as the game has a “Very Positive” ranking on the site and plenty of praise for its unique tone and approach.
Legend of Kay Anniversary
If you have a soft spot for the 3D platform-action games of yesteryear, consider snagging Legend of Kay Anniversary ($20). Although not quite as well known as the Marios and Sonics of the genre, Kay really is a blast from the past: Anniversary updates the 10-year-old console game for a new generation.
The remastered edition implements new character models and higher-resolution textures for slightly less-dated visuals, although the jumping, maneuvering, and martial arts-inspired combat retain their original flavor. Admittedly, Legend of Kay wasn’t a surefire classic back when—but this seems like a solid example of where the genre was at a decade back.